A bridge is set to be widened as part of plans to unclog a highway pinch point between Preston and the Ribble Valley.

The Skew Bridge, on Preston Road in Grimsargh, is just wide enough to allow two medium-sized cars to pass across it in either direction.

However, larger vehicles like buses and lorries take up the entire span of the narrow route, forcing oncoming traffic to stop and wait.

Visibility on the approaches to the bridge – which is at the brow of a slope on the B6243 between Preston and Longridge – means that even drivers whose vehicles may be able to cross it side-by-side usually slow right down in anticipation of what might be coming towards them.

Lancashire County Council is poised to launch a public consultation into the proposed widening of the bridge in the coming weeks. 

The authority’s cabinet would have to approve the plans – and, if it does so, work is likely to start this summer and expected to last for around 12 months.

The change is being proposed as one of a series of measures to improve bus journeys and reliability across the county.

If the scheme goes ahead, the existing 5.05-metre carriageway across the bridge will be widened to 7.4 metres in order to allow a two-way flow of traffic.

The existing western footway at the location would be demolished to make way for the widening, but would be replaced with a new one. 

The footbridge on the opposite side of the bridge – which is a separate structure –  would be unaffected.

The blueprint would also see a ‘puffin’ pedestrian crossing installed to the north of the bridge, close to the entrance to the nearby Grimsargh St. Michael’s Church of England Primary School.   The bridge itself crosses an underpass which leads to the school.

A brickwork parapet is proposed for the widened bridge with “concrete coping” to match the existing design.

The scheme would be funded as part of the Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council Bus Service Improvement Plan, which has seen the two authorities handed £34.1m from the government for projects designed to benefit bus passengers.  

However, measures which also improve the general flow of traffic can also be considered.

In a statement about its plans for Skew Bridge, the county council says:  “We are looking to widen the road bridge to help reduce congestion.

“With the current road layout, there is only room for one direction traffic flow, causing delays for all traffic – in particular larger vehicles and buses.  The proposals will allow for two-way traffic flow and will also include a traffic signal-controlled pedestrian crossing to the north of the bridge.

“Public engagement is due to start from [the] end of March 2024 with the opportunity for anyone to view and comment on the concept plans.”